Upscale, Down, Second Time Around
Sometimes Chow, Baby and a restaurant get off on the wrong foot. Both restaurants and food critics are entitled to a bad night every now and then. So I went out on a second-chances round last week, and I’m happy to report that two places I’d dissed before were outstanding this time.
Last time I visited Revolver Taco Lounge (2822 W. 7th St.) I found the food overpriced and generally bland (“Shooting Themselves in the Foot,” May 30, 2012). But recently a dear friend’s birthday party was held at the upscale authentic Mexican eatery in the West 7th corridor, and I really enjoyed the experience.
One of my big complaints about the place the first time around was that I couldn’t get a margarita for less than $13. On my recent visit, though, the price had dropped to a much more pleasant $10, but the quality was still perfecto.
We were off to a good start. It was a busy Friday night, and the service was a little slow, but that was forgivable, and the food easily put the joint back in my good graces.
It took the soothing power of those margaritas to counteract the spice of the fresh guacamole ($7). We were shoveling ice in our mouths after one bite of the scrumptious jalapeños rellenos ($13): fire-roasted jalapeños stuffed with Oaxacan cheese and chorizo on a bed of black bean puree and topped with a cool crèma fresca.
The oven-roasted goat in the birria de chivo y consome ($18) was so tender it could have been an R&B song, and the rich broth made the dish warm and homey. The pastor tacos ($13) (slow-roasted pork shoulder) had an intense flavor and were beautifully balanced by the small bits of pineapple, cilantro, and salsa verde wrapped in savory house-made corn tortillas.
Another place I’ve seen with new eyes is Los Paisanos Restaurant Y Taqueria (1446 N. Main St.) on the North Side. The folks who took over the venerable Los Alamos Restaurant got off to a shaky start with me. The service was slow, the food inconsistent, and the dining room was a ghost town.
On a recent lunch visit, the place was hopping with Los Alamos regulars and some twentysomething business types, perhaps lured there by the dollar tacos. My guest and I enjoyed the warm, garlicky salsa and oft-refilled basket of fresh chips.
The bang-for-your-buck quality of this place is off the charts. The delicious tostadas de carne ($6.99) was thickly slathered with beans, ground beef, lettuce, and avocado and drizzled with sour cream. The caldo de pollo ($7.50) was also generously portioned, with a drumstick and additional huge chunks of tender chicken, carrots, celery, onions, cilantro, and a small corn on the cob, swimming in a tasty broth.
I’m glad I gave these places another try. Maybe I’ll go through my high school yearbook and look up my exes to see if any of them will give me a second chance. I should hit the gym before I do that, though. I didn’t have a food critic’s body the last time they saw me.
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